Shared Custody or Not

Updated on September 28, 2013
E.B. asks from Miami, FL
13 answers

what are your beliefs with shared custody or sole custody? After a divorce should both parents have equal amount of time spend with the kids? What has been your experience?

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answers from San Francisco on

If both parents are good parents: The kid should live in one home and visit the other. A kid shouldn't have to move back and forth twice a week -- s/he needs a home. In this situation it is not possible for both parents to have an "equal" amount of time with the child, but it's in the child's best interest, imo.

How many adults would like to move back and forth on a regular basis?

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answers from Columbia on

I don't think that parents should have equal time. Not because they don't deserve it, or one parent is better than the other, but because kids needs a place that they can think of as their home base. They shouldn't be nomads, going back and forth, because the parents have this need for everything to be equitable.

Having one parent with primary custody, and one parent with visitation, in my opinion, is the healthiest for kids.

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answers from Kansas City on

i agree with christy lee! one parent have primary custody and the other parent have visitation. If the child wants to visit the other parent at their request more than what the courts have ordered that should be allowed too. it is very important for a child to have both parents in his/her life, however, that isnt the case with so many divorced situations. after my divorce in 2000 my ex split and left me with ALL the responsibility of parenting. But IMO that was the best decision he could have made. My child didnt have to go back and forth between parents and my ex was not a very good father. he was more of a "buddy" to our daughter and very mixed up in the head. good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

What works best to keep the KIDS happy and sane in a crappy situation.

That's my belief. It's NOT ABOUT THE PARENTS. The parents couldn't keep the relationship going. That's their issue and the kids have to deal with the fall-out. Which sucks.

I speak to this as a child of multiple divorces. I had to move in the middle of 6th grade, which sucked. Dad had us on weekends, mom during the week. That worked fine. We had stability at school. And if one parent picks up the kid on friday night and takes them to school on monday, that's a lot of time.

Kids need to have their own space and not feel like they are just visiting no matter where they are. This also sucks.

Sole custody is for the safety of the child. If one parent is dangerous or irresponsible where the kids are in danger, then that's a good reason. Because the parents don't get along and want to F-each other over, that's not a good reason.

Adults need to act like adults and be civil for the sake of their kids. I have absolutely no patience for parents who screw their kids over by being selfish and thinking only of how they feel.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I heard or read of divorced parents that changed residence every week or whatever their schedule was. So the kids always lived at the same house and the parents had to move between the kid's house and another residence.
I know I would hate to do that but the kids should not have to move every few days.

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answers from Honolulu on

Look up "types of child custody."

It is not all about how much "time" a parent has and that it is "equal" to the other parent.
I know a family where the Mom and her Ex, have about equal time with their THREE kids. ALL of them, practically daily, have to lug all their things to the other parent's house. And each day, the other parent is picking them up from school and/or taking the kids to their after school activities.

The kid(s) have to be thought about too.
Not just the parent's time.
Meaning, that family I know, the kids are worse than gypsies.
Who the hell, would want that for themselves much less for their kids?
No one I know, would want to hop back and forth between houses and parents, SO frequently.
But those parents, have decided it for themselves.
Not the kids.

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answers from Phoenix on

Yes, it depends on the situation. In AZ, the courts push to involve both parents when both parents are capable or do not pose a danger to their children. I'm divorced with 2 boys. I have joint legal custody of my boys, so we are required to work together to make important decisions. However, I have them the majority of the time. They go to their dads every other weekend, and more during school breaks, because he used to live an hour away and now lives 3 hours away from us. My husband has 3 kids. He also has joint legal custody, but shares them 50/50. We live in the same neighborhood as his ex-wife and she has the kids Sat 6 pm - Wednesday morning before school. We have them after school on Wednesday until Sat 6 pm. My husband would NEVER go for anything less as he wants to be active in their lives as much as possible. It has been this way for well over 5 years and everyone seems well adjusted. Both places are "home". I think it's easier for my step kids because their mom and dad live in the same neighborhood, so they still have the same friends, school, etc. It's harder for my boys because they leave town every other weekend and miss out on friends, birthday parties, they can't participate in weekend sports, etc. I foresee as they get older, they will want to go to their dads less and less.

Personal experience, I don't find having "base" home and the other parent comes there to visit, is practical. Maybe at first, but not long term. I tried that with my ex, when my boys were small, but eventually I didn't like him at my house all day while I was at work, it made me uncomfortable. Then he started dating, and his girlfriend didn't like him spending that time at my house either. Eventually, one would think the parents would move on with their lives and meet someone else and start new lives that they want their kids to be part of. I couldn't imagine my husband going to his ex's house all the time to spend time with his kids. And I couldn't imagine his ex's new husband would want him there all the time either.

None of it is ideal, but you do what's best for the kids.

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answers from Dover on

My personal experience and observations both point towards the neccessity for fairness to and what's best for the kids even if it isn't "fair" or easiest for the parents.

Sharing legal custody is fine but the child should have "primary placement" with one parent. Liberal visitation is fine (when the non-custodial parent is willing to be a parent) and flexibility is best. What both parents need to realize, accept, and actively practice is being an involved parent even when it's not "their" time (meaning that they should attend school and extra curricular events even if it's not "their weekend" and just plain be present in their child's life). The problem I have seen is when kids can't go to a birthday party or event because it's "mom's" or "dad's" weekend and that parent won't take them because it's "their time". Kids start resenting going with that parent, that parent it's very involved in their child's life, and it becomes a strained relationship.

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answers from Anchorage on

Well, of course it all depends a lot on the people involved. But, in an ideal world people would want to be as involved as possible in the lives of their kids and the parents would split custody 50/50 so both parent have a real presence and are not just a child support check. In an ideal world parents would be able to set aside their own anger and hurt at the other parent and would work together for the best interest of the child rather then using the child (or time with the child) as a weapon or bargaining tool. In an ideal world fathers rights would be better respected and it would not be "just the norm" to give mothers more/full custody just because they are mom while reducing a father to nothing more then a paycheck. JMO.

but we all know we do not live in an ideal world, so each situation has to be looked at individually with the soul focus on what is best for the kids.

My niece recently went from spending 7 days with each parent to being with her father full time. I think as much as she did not like having to change houses every week, she misses seeing her mother every other week much much more. She was okay having two homes since it meant having both parents fully present in her life.

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answers from Washington DC on

It depends on the people. However, I think there are very few cases where it truly benefits the child to have the other parent cut out. Be it they see their NCP for weekends and summers or they swap houses weekly, having your parents be your parents regardless of who they are married to is important. If DH and I ever split up, it would not be easy, but I would look for a joint custody arrangement that gave DD time with her beloved Daddy. I grew up (for good and valid reasons) without a "daddy" and she has a man who is a real dad. I would not take that from her. Problems between the parents should not turn into using children as pawns.

We were the primary household for my sks and I will say that their mother's CHOSEN lack of/limited involvement seriously harmed them. She damaged her children way more than she "got back at" her ex.

Now, that said, I'm also not a fan of "nesting" or acting like "one big happy" if that's not the case. Be honest and don't force relationships that are no longer there. It wasn't that the kids went to a different house that was our problem. It was that their mother wasn't there (by her choice) when they needed her. You can live apart and still care about your son's band concert.

I also think that arrangements that are more about physical location than sanity are hard on kids. I used to work at two offices. It was hard enough to work that way, let alone live that way. I think that week on/week off or weekends, holidays and summers is a much better idea than wondering who will pick you up this Tuesday because nobody wanted to be apart for more than 24 hours.

ETA: another reason I don't believe in "nesting" is because that does not work with high conflict situations and it also keeps the parents from moving on. It only works as long as neither parent dates, gets married, etc. A loving family with a stepparent can be a benefit to a child and show the child how a good relationship should be. My DH loves his children no less for getting remarried.

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answers from San Francisco on

There are way too many factors for this to be a simple question with a straightforward answer. Are both parents good people? Are they involved and invested in their kids' lives? How far apart with they live? Would the child(ren) have a bedroom of their own at each home or will they feel like a guest in one? Does one parent work incredibly long hours? What is the financial situation of both parents? How will it affect school and extracurricular activities? How well do the parents get along - will they be able to make decisions together and agree on things?

Like I said, there is no way to answer your question.



answers from San Francisco on

I've never been divorced, but I've spoken with MANY children of divorced parents who do shared physical custody. The kids HATE it because they are constantly moving from one house to another. They never feel settled or at home. Just as they're getting used to being at one house, they have to move to the next.

IMHO, I think there should be a family home where the children stay and the parents move in and out according to the custody arrangement. It is the parents that created the situation and the parents who should bear the brunt of the miserable situation. To me, if the parents refuse to do that. they don't really care about their kids and they put themselves and their happiness/comfort ahead of their children's.



answers from Boston on

Well the courts have rules that make what parents believe in this situation moot. If the parents are both decent people, the the court will usually decide that it's in the best interest of the child for both parents to share custody, at least in the sense of legal custody. Sole custody is for situations where the other parent is completely absent or is a danger to the child. But by and large, in most families it makes sense for both parents to have a say in the big decisions that affect a child's life.

Some states don't separate out physical custody but instead refer to "custody" as covering the legal part and then "parenting time" as the physical custody side of the equation. All things being equal, both parents should have access to their child on a schedule that makes sense for the child and parents. Personally, I think that the true 50/50 splits that are popular today are hard on kids. I know many kids who do Sunday night - Wednesday night at one house, Thursday morning through Sunday night at the other, then back to the first through Monday, then the second for mid-week, back to the first for the weekend, etc. Basically 3-4 days on and off. Then other families I know do one week on, one week off. That also seems draining to me, but it seems that the kids adjust. I would be concerned that my kids wouldn't feel like either place is home, but I think that if parents can afford to do it right and really give their children their own, permanent spaces in each home, that this can work.

My husband and I have talked about splitting up and I think that if he ever were to move out, the goal would be for the kids to be here with me in our home as much as possible and for him to spend time with them here. There are many nights that I am either working or at volunteer events where it would make sense for him to come here, have dinner with them, put them to bed and then go back to his place, which would be nearby. I don't think he would be able to afford a place where he could have all 4 kids over at once and give them enough space to feel at home, so this house would still have to be the home base for much of the time with us coming in and out. Of course this would mean that we have to see each other all the time and be nice to each other and I don't imagine either one of us would date much in a situation like this ("hey don't mind my ex he'll be leaving at 10...") so that's when we say "OK might as well just stay together" and put the conversation to rest for a while.

FWIW, I have sole legal and physical custody of my oldest son because his father left before his was born and hasn't paid any child support and can't be found. We have shared legal and sole physical custody of my step-daughter because her mother abandoned her and moved out of state almost 3 years ago. Prior to that, mom had weekday custody and we had weekend visitation. My husband definitely missed out on a lot of her life back then, but logistically getting her back and forth to school an hour away every day wouldn't have made sense.

At the end of the day, there's no one answer. Every situation needs to be evaluated for what's in the best interest of the child(ren).

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